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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  866 ratings  ·  170 reviews
From the author of Come Closer comes the most highly acclaimed-and unusual-thriller of the year. Josephine, a former addict, is offered a thousand dollars to find a suburban couple's missing daughter. But the search will take her into the dark underbelly of New York she thought she'd escaped-and a web of deceit that threatens to destroy her.
ebook, 256 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Berkley (first published 2006)
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Kimz Zahour
Small in stature... big on story!
A reformed "junkie" goes off the grift for a legit job of finding a missing girl and is thrown into a world (Hell's Kitchen 1950s) she had been trying to avoid in order to stay clean. I had trouble feeling very sympathetic to her situation until the plot started twisting and the tables were turning. Good storytelling!
Thanks again Bethany!
Sure as shit ain't like Pleasantville around these parts.

Sara Gran's look at the seedy flipside of 1950's America is a fantastic slice of noir that calls to mind greats like James M. Cain and early Lawrence Block. Joesephine Flannigan is paid to find a college girl slumming it as a dope fiend and using the contacts she built up through a lifetime of stealing and whoring and scoring dope gets hooked on solving a mystery much darker than she ever anticipated. This is everything the good clean hous...more
DOPE is a an admirably solid and capable noir thriller. The novel is fairly literate, which I appreciate, but like many "highbrow" novels it somehow feels like it's distancing itself from its source material, which in this case it borrows from most thoroughly (especially Chandler and Cain). DOPE a fast and fun read (well, maybe not "fun"--parts are bleak and harrowing), and the conceit is an effective one: moving classic noir settings up a decade into 1950's, where the novel, since it is written...more
I couldn't put this book down. Sara Gran writes a great noir mystery with none of the usual male BS. Instead, like City of the Dead, she burrows into the underbelly of a city (this time 1950s New York), and portrays each character with a clear-eyed humanizing portrait. Not that it makes them likable characters, necessarily, but understandable and real.
Her dialogue is sharp and her handling of situations is equally sharp. While I would never use adjectives like "elegiac" "lush" or "evocative" (w...more
This is probably the finest piece of American noir I've come across.
1950s, New York City, light ages before the famous ‘no tolerance’ policy of Mayor Giuliani. Josephine Flannigan, 36, tries to make her living as a former heroin addict. She is a skilled con artist, a shrewd shoplifter and, generally, whatever anybody wants her to be providing they pay cash. She doesn’t do drugs and she doesn’t sell herself, anything else is negotiable. She must be clever and flexible - in such a seedy, dangerous, crime-ridden city she is lucky she’s survived to her third decade...more
Brian Grover
This book was billed as (paraphrasing) "Chandler-esque noir set in 1950s New York City, with a series of shocking twists", which is right in my wheelhouse as a reader. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the results, for a couple of reasons.

One, while the similarities to Chandler are obvious, Philip Marlowe was a smartass of the highest caliber whose banter with the lowlifes he dealt with provided a welcome undercurrent of black humor throughout. Gran's protagonist here, Josephine Flannigan,...more
Debbi Mack
The best stories are the kind that linger in your mind long after you've finished them. For me, DOPE by Sara Gran was that kind of story.

Josephine "Joe" Flannigan is just the girl next door--if you happen to live in Hell's Kitchen, that is. Joe grew up there under the not-so-watchful eye of a single mother, so it was up to Joe to look after herself and her kid sister, Shelley. Both girls end up falling in with the wrong crowd and getting addicted to heroin, but pulling themselves out of "the lif...more
A glimpse into the lives of New York City junkies, mystery style. Josephine (Joey, Joe) has stayed clean for two years - but has never made it above earning her income by conning and thieving. She gets an offer to track down a daughter of a wealthy couple; the daughter is apparently doing drugs. Joe, having recently come clean, knows about the world where drug users end up. Joe turns PI and starts looking for the daughter.

The twist ending is well crafted.

e-bay purchase, book group book for Janua...more
I liked this book more than I had anticipated. Sara Gran is an author I had not heard of but one that I can appreciate. Josephine is a strong leading character in that her addiction, her desire for more junk after two years of "clean living," as well as the toxic relationships with acquaintances from the underground of the dope world ring true and are believable.

However, the descriptions of her shoplifting sprees and her relationship with her model sister seem undeveloped. These are key to Jose...more
This starts out reading like a docudrama and ends up mystery--which is actually what saves it from being trite and, ultimately, boring. Gran does little to make her protagonist stand out from other drug addict-thief characters we have read about before, those who have come clean, those who doubt their ability to stay clean, those who crave the drug and those determined not to go back. In this way, Josephine's character fails to stimulate the mind or imagination. The characters she meets are what...more
Matt Schiariti
Just when you think you know where it's going...'ll throw you for a loop!
I loved every page of Gran's 'Come Closer'..I read that in several hours of straight page turning. Dope is the exact same way. It's a short read, but it's so compelling and well written that it feels like much more book than it actually is. You'll probably find yourself finishing this one in one sitting.

An ex heroine addict is approached by a wealthy family to find their daughter. She was raised with the best of everyt...more
A slim noir, that keeps all the genre conventions in place while simultaneously turning them on their head.

Josephine is a con artist, petty thief and ex-junkie. She's hired to find a missing girl, by worried parents that want her to use her special knowledge and connections to bring their daughter home. But all is not as it seems and Joe soon finds herself up against some bad folks.

I loved the setting: 1950, New York City. I have an image of the 50's, and especially women of that era, as refin...more
After reading Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead--a smart, alternative noir mystery--I was left craving for more. Dope, an earlier novel with some of the same gritty vibe, is set in the petty thieving underworld of 1950’s New York, a place that in no way resembles anything from Happy Days. Josephine, a former addict, straight for two years, is just getting by picking pockets and shoplifting jewelry when she is paid a colossal pile of cash by a distraught couple who wants her to l...more
May 15, 2008 Jamie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the sons of Sam Spade and the daughters of Philip Marlowe
Shelves: prose-fiction
Sara Gran has the style of classic hardboiled fiction down perfect, hitting all the right notes from start to finish. What really sets her apart though, from the Hammetts and the Chandlers, is the woman's perspective. Her story of Josephine Hannigan, a former junkie turned amateur detective in 1950s New York, employs most of the standard tropes of these kinds of plots, but she takes more care to show us the ladies on the outer edges of the story that usually take a backseat to the macho gunsalls...more
Kat Hagedorn

Talk about minimalist writing. This book is written in the best hard-as-nails, noir style. And for that reason alone it's engaging. You can't quite tell whether you should like the protagonist too much, much the same way Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder is an enigmatic protagonist. (Goodness, don't they get bored going to bars and sitting in their rooms, smoking?)

I did figure out the denouement early on. It's very hard to write mysteries without giving away the bad guy (...more
Josephine Flannigan, a former junkie and prostitute, is hired by a mysterious couple to find their missing daughter. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned.

Stay far, far away from this book if you need to like the characters; chances are pretty high that you won’t like most of the lowlives that appear in this well-written piece of genre fiction. But if like me, you’re all about the narrative, you should pick this one up.

The final act of this novel is surprisingly affecting, if disturbing, a...more
I read Gran's book, Come Closer, and became a fan. Dope didn't disappoint, either. I don't know how Gran did her research, but she definitely new how to get inside the mind of a heroin addict. (I know a recovering addict, so was able to confirm some of the experiences being described in the book.) This was a page-turner and didn't have the ending I expected. An excellent mystery; highly recommended.
This is the third Sara Gran book that I have read this year. She is so talented. Each novel is so different, so unique, so well-written. My favorite is still Come Closer but probably due to the supernatural subject matter of the novel.

I hope she has a long career ahead of her as I intend to read every word she ever publishes.
A 30-something former addict is hired by a wealthy couple to find their college-age junkie daughter in 1950's New York City.

This is certainly a page-turner. The original mystery becomes more complex, with various twists and turns in the plot. There's something happening almost constantly. The protagonist is jaded and flawed, yet likeable. The ending is appropriate.

I can recommend this novel.

I'm fascinated by stories of addiction of any kind. Add a missing person, a noir tone, and a 1950s NYC background and I'm all about it.

The problem I found was that I could not care less about the characters, even our heroine. It was an easy read, and I flew through the first half waiting for something to really hook me so that I couldn't put the book down, but when what I'm guessing was supposed to be a major twist in the story occurred, I just didn't care. The story yelled "Ta-Da! Bet you didn'...more
I'd forgotten all about this book... I picked it up a couple of years ago because I dug the cover and it had an interesting storyline, but I was totally surprised at how good it was. Sara Gran does a fantastic job creating a perfectly dead-on noir feel.
read it in 4 hrs - definite page turner. im also partial to novels about new york before Guiliani.
Willem van den Oever
Two years ago, Josephine Flannigan left the streets and the drugs behind and has since tried to pull her life together by living an honest life and stealing from jewelry store to finance all that. Then a rich couple asks her to find their missing daughter, who has probably dropped into the scene that Flannigan has said goodbye all those years ago. And they’re willing to pay her a grand to boot. So it's back to the streets for Joey, back to the backstabbers, back the addicts and back to the dope....more
Aug 26, 2008 NYLSpublishing rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to NYLSpublishing by: NYLS Book Review
My dentist is a peculiar sort of fellow. He invariably ends each examination with the same maddening question: “Which do you want first? The good news? Or, the disappointing news?” I always choose the good news – first; since it seems a polite enough place to begin. I now understand why he uses this technique. Simply put, it’s easier.

In Gran’s latest novel, Dope, the protagonist, Josephine Flannigan, a former dope addict, is hired by a wealthy suburban couple to find Nadine, their youngest daugh...more
Rachel K
Sara Gran is becoming one of my favorite writers, and this little gem is my favorite of her books so far. It was close enough to perfect that I rounded it up to 5 stars despite finding the ending a little abrupt and confusing. I think I sorted out the details, but I had to stop and think it through for a while. This isn't really a problem with the book. It's common in noir for the protagonist to give you slightly less information than you need, and the circumspection of the narrator adds to the...more
Dope By Sara Gran
Well this book does what it's title suggests and
is a great new novel by Sara Gran apparently her
third but I'd never heard of her when I impulse
bought this book on the strength of it's back
cover strapline "1950's New York: Heroin,
Streetwalkers and conmen, how can Joesphine
Flannigan stay clean?"
Considering it was published in 2006 the book
reads like it was written by a contemporary of
Jim Thompson and William Burroughs with a helping
of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.
The b...more
Matt Raymond
What a great little book! I can't believe how much I liked it, considering how slow the beginning was for me. Set in the 50's, it's the story as told by Josephine Flannigan, a recovering Heroin addict, who is asked by a couple to find a young woman, a current heroin addict. Joe isn't a PI, and she basically steals & pick-pockets to make ends meet, but when they offer her $2000 she starts looking around.

After some initial snooping, and getting nowhere for a 1/3 of the book, things get very in...more
A classic mystery novel--classic in that it is your mystery with multiple twists and unexpected (or perhaps expected) betrayals. Set in NYC in the 1950s, our narrator Josephine is a recovering heroin addict still hustling, but straight this time around, who is approached by a rich couple looking for her daughter. The daughter is a college student who became an addict, dropped out of school and is now probably ones of the many whores of a particularly lowlife pimp. We see a little different slice...more
In her previous novel, Come Closer, Sara Gran puts an unusual spin on the horror genre, transcending the usual demon possession story with beautifully efficient sentences, complex characters, and a dash of feminist criticism. The result, described by one critic as a cross between Rosemary's Baby and "The Yellow Wallpaper," is genuinely scary and resonant. For her next book, Dope, she tries the same thing, with less successful results, this time with the familiar tropes of the hard-boiled detecti...more
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“I never met an addict who came from a nice home . I've met addicts that came from families that had money and nice houses. But never from a nice home.” 15 likes
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